Where do your favourite Nickelodeon characters spend their summer holidays? In a larger-than-life theme-park playground, set on a secret archipelago of crazy islands of course!

 

The Brief

Having been successful with their recent suites of four mini-games, Nickelodeon Digital UK wanted to commission an “uber-suite” of 12 mini-games designed to be promoted and released across summer 2017. Furthermore, they wanted to make this set fully cross-property, involving a whole bunch of top properties from Nickelodeon and Nicktoons, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Loud House, Henry Danger and Game Shakers.

Nickelodeon Digital UK  wanted to see a wide variety of gameplay-types, suitable for an audience aged 7-15, and for the whole thing to be loosely based on the creative concept of a theme-park or fairground.

 

Our Response

It was an ambitious brief that demanded some big thinking, so we took the theme-park idea and blew up the size and scope, deciding to set it across an archipelago of fantastical islands. We pitched it as a sort of holiday destination that Nickelodeon characters would retreat to during their summer break, all mixing together and having fun in a kind of wacky never-never land. We thought it would be fun to see all the different characters in a surprising context, away from their regular environment, and from Treasure Island to Jurassic Park, mystical islands have always held a strong allure!

Drilling down into the actual content, we planned to build a large stable of super-fun games, spread across a huge variety of brand new gameplay styles (including lots of real physics for surprising emergent gameplay) that fit with the various island types and climates, from ice-dodgems to beach buggy racing!

We also thought it was important to make the player feel like they were part of the action as much as possible, and to foster a community outside of the actual gameplay that would encourage players to share their experiences with each other and enjoy a bit of light hearted competition.

On top of that, we wanted to give players a solid multi-session experience with loads of incentives to keep coming back and building on what they’d unlocked so far.

 

The Challenges

Designing a creative style that struck the right balance between strong but neutral enough to act as a suitable backdrop for 8 completely different Nickelodeon properties! We needed to bring all the different visual styles of the various shows together and make them work well within the same experience:

Evenly balancing the full roster of games, so that we have strong gameplay variety across the each island and across the brands.

Making sure the difficulty curves across the games feel similar, even though the actual gameplay is very different, and that players will accumulate theme park tickets at a similar rate, no matter what they’re playing.

Providing an overall experience with enough depth to keep players engaged for long play sessions and multiple return visits, but at the same time, is simple enough for effortlessly getting straight to the heart of the action.

 

The Results

“Infinity islands” is set across 4 distinct islands, each with its own microclimate, including balmy beaches, arctic mountains, swampy jungles and tropical volcanos. Scattered across the islands are tags representing each theme park ‘ride’, and the Nickelodeon characters that can currently be found there.

We took a lot of time to design and built a really broad variety of innovative and surprising gameplay styles that stand out as fresh and engaging, not only from each other, but from other games across the wider Nickelodeon sites. Among the vast roster of mini-games that make up Infinity Islands, we’ve got jet-ski racing with real buoyancy physics, gladiatorial battles in the high jungle canopy, volcano and ice-cave based rollercoasters, action puzzlers set deep underground in a Mayan temple, a larger-than-life pinball machine carved into an icy glacier, laser-canon drone shooting on a runaway mine-train, beach buggies, jetpacks, and coconut cannon!

During each game, the player earns Infinity Islands tickets as they go. These tickets can either be spent in-game on activating awesome power-ups,banked for use in another game, or on the gift shop screen to buy collectables and wristbands.

Each ‘ride’ has its own themed gift shop at the end, containing a unique set of themed collectables, which take the form of crazy hats, t-shirts and accessories. These can be equipped and worn as a badge of honour in the avatar creator, where users can upload their own face, select skin colour and hair style, and then don their collectable items to form a custom outfit. Next, players can enter the post-ride photo-booth and have their picture taken with the Nickelodeon characters from the ride they just played, holding up their high score for all to see! This photo can then be downloaded or shared to an online gallery, providing some friendly online competition between players!

Another option players have open to them in the gift shop is ‘The Claw’. For 3 tickets, players can have a go at picking up a ‘prize’ worth a whole lot more, but watch out, the claw game works and feels just like the fairground classic, so don’t expect to win a prize every time!

With such a lot of cross-game and unlockable content, it made sense to implement something to keep track of everything for the player. The whole game uses an autosave feature which means all of a player’s high-scores, tickets, wristbands and unlocked items are saved between sessions on the same device, helping facilitate multiple sessions and allowing players to build on where they left off so that they can collect the whole set!

With 4 islands, 8 properties,12 ‘rides,’ each with their own gift shop, a claw machine, 3 wristbands, over 70 unlockable hats, tops and accessories, customisable player avatars (with face uploading) and a photographic high-score gallery, “Infinity Islands” is a flagship web-game experience for Nickelodeon Digital UK and represents our most ambitious project to date!

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